Friday, October 23, 2009

Off to Pickwick with the Iceman

We drove to Guntersville Saturday morning, October 10th, to meet up with Pete & Geneva and drop off their car, the one we had driven to Missouri. On the way back to Ditto Landing, the Captain ran across these fixer-uppers and couldn’t resist taking a few photos.



Bud “Iceman” McNeal arrived at Ditto Landing about 2:30 that afternoon, courtesy of his daughter Sandy. Ron’s friend Diane invited the three of us, along with Don & Rosie, over to her home Saturday evening where we enjoyed a marvelous steak dinner and had the pleasure of pampering her adorable little Pomeranian, Teddy.

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Real china, crystal, and a tablecloth… how long has it been since we have had a meal this elegant???


Diane & Ron.


We left Ditto Landing Sunday morning shortly after 10:00 a.m. and proceeded 48 miles downriver to anchor in Goldfield Branch. As soon as we cleared the marina, Todd turned his captaining duties over to Bud who seemed to enjoy being at the helm. The fish were going crazy chasing shad in the cove where we anchored so the Captain put the dingy down and took off to try his luck. He managed to catch a couple of white bass but not enough for a mess, so he let them go.

The Admiral & Iceman enjoying the only hour of sun we had during his entire visit.


As expected, rain moved in overnight and continued well into Monday afternoon. Since we were only planning to travel about ten miles, we didn’t motivate until early afternoon. We initially attempted to anchor in First Creek near Joe Wheeler State Park but the bottom was rock and gravel and the anchor didn’t want to grab. So Todd and Bud left me with “Life’s2Short” and dinghied over to the marina to get a bag of ice, only to find that the marina is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. We then went on down to Second Creek where we were anchored for the evening by 3:30 p.m.

The Iceman getting ready for some of the Admiral’s wonderful cooking!


Tuesday we left our anchorage about 9:30 and went through Wheeler Lock without much delay. We reached Wilson Lock a couple of hours later and had to wait at least an hour before locking down. We then stopped in at the Florence Marina to get some ice and dinghy fuel before continuing on to the Rockpile at Ross Branch where we anchored for the evening. The rain caught up with us not long after leaving Florence and didn’t stop until sometime in the night.

That evening the Iceman prepared his famous spaghetti with brown butter sauce and it was most excellent!


We left the Rockpile Wednesday morning at 10:00. It was another gloomy, cool day but at least the precipitation was limited to a light drizzle. We reached Grand Harbor Marina before noon and Chip Lucas, the dockmaster, offered to give Bud a ride home. While at Grand Harbor we ran into Mo whose boat, “MOTU,” was anchored in nearby Zippy Cove with another boat named “Seabound Drummer” that we recognized from Demopolis. When we passed Waterfall Cove earlier with Bud, there was a big houseboat taking up a good part of the gravel bar so we decided to motor over to Zippy Cove for a quiet evening.

After more rain overnight, we headed for Waterfall Cove late Thursday morning. The houseboat was still there but was getting ready to leave so we went ahead and pulled in. With all the rain we’ve been having lately, the waterfall was flowing beautifully and the sun even tried to peek out a couple of times during the afternoon. Mo joined us in the cove that afternoon and invited us over to “MOTU” for dinner Thursday evening.


The Captain out enjoying his favorite hobby!


Friday started off in the low 40’s and ended in the low 40’s with a daytime high in the low-to-mid-50’s, no sun and a north wind. It’s far too early to be this cold! And the weekend is looking to be even worse. As a result, the Captain informed me that my “surprise” birthday party on Saturday had been canceled. However, Don & Rosie of “Just Rosie” called to say that they were just passing Florence and would arrive between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m.

Just Rosie” pulling in to Waterfall Cove.


After we got “Just Rosie” rafted to “MOTU,” we all went over to visit with Don & Rosie. Don even broke out the karaoke machine and almost everyone participated to some extent. We then attempted to learn Scruples but Mo gave up and went to bed early on us so we didn’t pursue it any further.

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Mo & Todd get a laugh listening to the others sing.


Mo was so mad at the Captain because he refused to sing.


Saturday was an even nastier day than Friday and may not have gotten out of the 40’s all day. The Captain fished around the gravel bar off and on while the Admiral concentrated on making a big pot of vegetable soup. Don & Rosie went for a long walk through the woods and then invited us all over that evening for Rosie’s wonderful gumbo and cornbread. What a perfect meal on a cold evening!

Just Rosie,” “Motu” and “Life’s2Short” rafted up at the Waterfall.



“Gangsta Mo” all bundled up so she could make a few phone calls on the flybridge, the only place she could get a signal.


We woke up on the Admiral’s birthday to something we hadn’t seen for a while – sunshine! It was still a very chilly morning but the sun warmed things up nicely and by early afternoon we were sitting on the gravel bar soaking up the rays.

There’s that lovely birthday girl in her bearskin robe!


Don & Rosie went for another, shorter, hike in the woods and then joined us on the gravel bar. The Captain spent a good part of the day fishing – and catching!

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The Captain and Mo’s dog Honey fishing for dinner.



The Iceman showed up in his pontoon around 3:00 p.m. with bags of fried chicken and rolls to share. We had planned to have a fish fry Sunday evening but that was quickly postponed.

The Iceman arrives at the falls.


As soon as the sun dipped behind the trees, the warmth dissipated and we all quickly decided it was time to go inside. Bud took off for home and the rest of us ended up over at “Just Rosie” again for cocktails, conversation and best of all – birthday cake and ice cream! What a treat for all of us!!!

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And thanks to everyone for my gifts: a bottle of wine and two ponytail holders from Mo; a Big River Grille tee shirt from Chattanooga from Don & Rosie (and the birthday cake and ice cream); two bags of ice from the Iceman; and a beautiful fleece Columbia vest from my wonderful husband. Thanks to all for being here and for making my special day special.

Monday was another cold, foggy morning but the sun rapidly burned off the fog and took the chill out of the air.




Bud sent an e-mail saying he would be out around 12:30 to take the five of us to his house for lunch. He arrived about 1:00 and we all piled into the pontoon dressed in our winter wear, Bloody Mary’s in hand.


View Cold Trip

It was a cool ride to Our Sunset Point of View, but Bud’s tasty homemade beef stew and cornbread warmed us up nicely!

Bud’s new boathouse.


The “Stew-Master.”


Nothing better than a nap with the pets after a great bowl of stew!

View Napping

Bud took us on a tour of Dry Creek on the return trip and we arrived back at the waterfall before 6:00 p.m. to find “Seabound Drummer” anchored there. Randy had dinghied over to the gravel bar and was fishing while his wife Patty stayed on board. Todd fished with Randy for a while before joining the rest of us on “Just Rosie” for more gumbo and cornbread, the fish fry having been postponed again!

Tuesday also dawned sunny after a chilly overnight. Barring any further distractions, we planned to have our fish fry mid-afternoon and an evening campfire. Mo was responsible for cooking the potatoes and onions, Rosie prepared an appetizer, salad and bread, I made tartar sauce and a pasta salad and Todd was in charge of the fish (both catching and cooking for the most part). Todd also took the dinghy and collected a big pile of firewood to supplement what Don & Rosie had already gathered.

About 2:00 p.m. a catamaran named “Blue Heron” pulled up on the gravel bar next to “Just Rosie” to spend the night. We ended up inviting Gale & Mo (yes, another Mo!) to join us for the fish fry so Todd and Don got busy and caught some more fish. We thought Randy & Patty from “Seabound Drummer” were also going to join us but they decided to eat on their boat. At any rate, we had plenty of fish and plenty of sides and just enough wood to keep the fire burning nicely all evening.


We planned to leave Waterfall Cove Wednesday but the weather was supposed to be in the mid 70’s again so we decided to stay one more day. Although it was reasonably warm, the breeze picked up and it was mostly cloudy a good part of the day. The Captain changed the oil in the generator while I worked on getting the blog current and then Don came over to see if he could help Todd with a grounding issue on the generator.

Wednesday afternoon Todd went to gather more firewood for a hot dog cookout on the gravel bar. After Todd returned, Gale & Mo took our dinghy to Whetstone to check out the waterfall there and picked up another load of wood on the way back.

Do ya think we have enough fire wood???

Bud came out mid-afternoon to visit for a few hours but went home before it got too dark. It was another fun evening around the fire. In fact, Don & Rosie and Todd & I ended up staying up until almost 1:00 a.m. in an effort to use up all the firewood!




All four of the boats on the gravel bar left for Bay Springs Lake Thursday morning. “Life’s2Short” and “Just Rosie” stopped by Aqua Yacht Harbor to pump out the holding tanks before heading south. Unfortunately, Jason, the dockmaster, experienced a pump-out malfunction with “Just Rosie” and ended up taking a sewage bath! As soon as he got us tied up he was planning to leave and take a shower at a friend’s house nearby, but the Captain insisted he climb aboard and use our shower so he did. Poor Jason!

We left Aqua Yacht about 11:30 a.m. and arrived at our anchorage around 4:00 p.m. We rafted next to “Just Rosie” in the Five Fingers Cove area and Rosie invited everyone, including Gale & Mo, over for a delicious spaghetti & meatball dinner (except Mo on “MOTU” who went directly to Bay Springs Marina). Todd volunteered to play taxi with his dinghy so that Gale & Mo wouldn’t have to put theirs down. By the time Todd took them back to “Blue Heron” the wind had picked up considerably and it was starting to mist.

Today is Friday, October 23rd. More rain passed through overnight but was out of the area by mid-morning. Even though it stayed pretty warm overnight, the temperatures have been dropping all day so we decided it would be a good evening to have Don & Rosie over for chili. Tomorrow we will go in to Bay Springs Marina to meet up with Todd’s parents who are going to join us on “Life’s2Short” as we travel from Bay Springs to Demopolis.

We are looking forward to a fun get-together at the marina this weekend with Chuck & Pip (“Miss Pip”), Bud (Iceman) from Pickwick, Mo (“MOTU”), Don & Rosie (“Just Rosie”) and whoever else decides to join us! I’m sure a good time will be had by all as we welcome Bill & Marilyn to Bay Springs and help them celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Back Aboard "Life's2Short"

After three weeks of traveling and visiting friends and family in Missouri and Colorado, we are happy to be back aboard “Life’s2Short.” Following are several photos covering some of our activities since the last blog update.

Dinner at the Hayes residence on Sunday, September 20th, with the Teale family (Susan, Jason & Kelli). Thanks for hosting us, Nila & Everett!

Todd’s first night in Colorado having dinner with his parents and long-time family friends, Bob & Paula Lucas and the Lewis family.

The next morning, as we were headed to Wyoming to fish, dad and I stopped at the top of Loveland Pass so I could see what snow feels like again………brrrrrrrrr!

Whitetail doe and antelope buck in Wyoming.
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French Creek Hole, North Platte River, WY.

Billy Coburn fishing while his loyal companion Callie waits for his return.

Father Lanning & Father Coburn stretching the truth about how big the fish were today!

After leaving WY, headed back to CO, we took an eight-hour, 300-mile trip through three mountain passes so we could enjoy the aspen turning in the Rocky Mountains. The Colorado fall colors should be on everybody’s “bucket-list!”
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The Captain and his father enjoying a beautiful Colorado day!

Bill & Billy Coburn. What a wonderful five days of father-son fishing.

Billy’s bride Annie invited us all over for a delicious lasagna dinner upon our arrival in Crested Butte, CO. Also pictured is future Heisman Trophy winner Joe, son of Billy & Annie.

Bill & Bill working on cabin projects at the Gunnison River Ranch.

The father and son duos after fishing on Cebolla Creek. Not sure how everybody else did but the Captain figures he caught and released over 100 trout the days he was on the water.

A few more aspen photos as we head back over the mountains to Boulder.
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Lifetime friend Rodney and Todd enjoying lunch at Todd’s parents home outside of Boulder.

Back in Springfield, Todd pairs with Bob Eckels for his semi-annual Physical Plant golf tournament.

At Lake of the Ozarks, Brenda’s dad Wade is busy getting the new boat dock ready for a crappie attractor he built.

Brenda’s niece Jennifer shows off the new crappie attractor.

Shortly after we made it back to Ditto Landing, we saw Don & Rosie aboard “Just Rosie” and made plans to go to Rosie’s Cantina with them and local friends Ron & Diane for dinner Thursday evening, October 8th. Ron has a houseboat at Ditto Landing in a slip next to “Just Rosie” and they got to know each other when Don & Rosie stayed at Ditto Landing on their way upriver. Ron also befriended a Canadian cruising couple, Sam & Rina, who joined us for dinner.

The Captain & Admiral posing with the Mexican band.

Our dinner group (minus Don who is taking the photo). Left to right: Rina, Diane, Rosie, Todd, Brenda, Ron and Sam.

We spent Thursday and Friday unpacking, re-provisioning and doing boat chores and laundry. Today is Saturday, October 10th, and we are going to use Ron’s extra car to shuttle Pete’s car (the one we borrowed to take to Missouri) to Alred Marina in Guntersville where we will meet Pete & Geneva for breakfast before heading back to Ditto Landing.

Bud “Iceman” McNeal who lives on Pickwick Lake will be joining us at Ditto Landing this afternoon to cruise back to Pickwick Lake with us. We should arrive at Pickwick the middle part of next week and hope to enjoy a long weekend with our good friends at Waterfall Cove.

After that, it’s on to Bay Springs Lake. Todd’s parents will be traveling through the area in their motor home around the third week of October so we plan to spend several days visiting with them before heading down the Tenn-Tom, destination Demopolis, AL. Todd’s new favorite saying that he got from Bob on “September Song” is: “We know it’s time to head south because the butter’s starting to get hard!”